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Leading up to the NFL draft, it appeared likely the Vikings would use one of its two first-round selections to fill the void left by former middle linebacker Jasper Brinkley, who signed with the Arizona Cardinals in free agency.
Potential draft selections at the position included Alec Ogletree and Manti Te'o, who were both available through all three of the team's first-round selections. Ogletree was eventually selected 30th by the St. Louis Rams and Te'o was selected 38th by the San Diego Chargers.
And if the Vikings chose not to trade its second-round selection (52nd overall) to the New England Patriots, Rick Spielman could have selected linebacker Arthur Brown, who went No. 56 to the Baltimore Ravens, a team also looking to address the middle of its defense following the retirement of Ray Lewis.
Instead, Minnesota drafted Gerald Hodges, who is best suited on the outside and Michael Mauti, a seventh-round selection who will likely not take the field this year.
Mauti has torn his ACL three times over the last five years and continues to rehab the latest injury.
As a result, the Vikings appear ready to hand the reigns over to Erin Henderson, the team's weak-side linebacker who recently signed a two-year, $4 million contract.
According to Ben Goessling, Henderson has added eight or nine pounds since last season and is ready to make the move.
Henderson met with reporters at Winter Park following strength and conditioning workouts:
"I’m excited for the opportunity, man. My time here has been spent playing the will linebacker. But I got a taste of that mike and what it’s about when I’ve had the chance to play in those nickel situations. I look forward to the challenge. It’s something new for me to learn, something new for me to put my brain to and help me refocus a little bit with the kind of work and time I have to put in in order for us to be successful."
If Henderson can make the move successfully, he would follow in his brother E.J.'s footsteps, who made the Pro Bowl in 2011.
However, this remains one of biggest concerns for the Vikings and a major need for improvement over last year. The draft was certainly full of middle linebacker prospects and Minnesota decided to take Patterson over the defensive upgrade.
Only time will tell if this was the best move for the team.